With the wild winter winds blowing and snow banks towering over many city sidewalks, it’s hard to think about summer. But as most educators and school administrators know, the second half of the school year is the time to start planning for summer school and programs designed to help students recover credits and keep pace for an on-time graduation.
Many school districts across the country are up-ending traditional approaches to summer school in pursuit of better student outcomes and a smarter return on investment by providing summer school courses online – not only for credit recovery but for original courses, too. Once summer courses are part of the blended learning ecosystem it’s possible to redefine both program scope and student success.
For North Clackamas Schools in suburban Portland, Oregon, moving summer school online enabled them to take an established program and dramatically extend its reach so that more students were able to recover credits and get back on track for an on-time graduation. By using the personalized learning platform, North Clackamas Schools was able to streamline the delivery of courses to students as well as the back-end administrative aspects of running a summer program.
In moving to an online learning platform, the district was able to enroll a record 496 students and 83 percent of them completed their programs and recovered credits successfully. Ayelin Summers, District Coordinator of Alternative Education for North Clackamas Schools, credited the move to the personalized learning platform as the “difference maker for us in scaling up to support hundreds of kids as they progressed towards their diplomas.”
On the other side of the country, Dan Mahlandt, Coordinator of the Ephrata Virtual Academy, notes that the summer programs he has been responsible for over several years have experienced greater success since moving online. From his perspective, a blended learning approach to summer school produces a better quality outcome for students than just measuring “time in seat” regardless of performance in assessments.
The district was able to enroll a record 496 students and 83 percent of them completed their programs and recovered credits successfully.
By using online programs, Dan and summer school teachers are able to monitor academic performance incrementally. He says, “We conduct an evaluation with the teacher and the student after two weeks to see how well they are meeting their academic goals. If their performance, based on assessment, demonstrates strong comprehension of the course material and positive movement towards educational goals, then the student can continue to pursue their studies online from home or coming into the brick and mortar building for support for the duration of the program.”
Mahlandt sees online and blended learning programs creating a “partnership with students that enables them to re-engage with their educational success. By the end of the summer program most have moved from feeling disenfranchised to realizing that they have control over their education, and they are engaged both with the material and their teachers and ready to learn,” he said.